Building the profile of CyberParks users

Avgi Vassi
May 1st – May 24th, 2015

This STSM focuses on exploring the relation between public space, people and the use of technology. As technology has entered dynamically in our lives, enabling us to replicate activities in public that use to be private, it is considered that the lines between public space and private territory and human interaction and human alienation are becoming more and more blur. This study explores the increasing interaction between digital and physical environments and considers ICT as a tool to enhance public spaces in order to become more friendly, sociable and lively, but also as a tool to investigate the current situation in public spaces. This research considers parks as the place of study and is trying to create a profile of people using them with a focus on those who use technology. Peoples ’profiles are studied along with their activities, their behavior and in the light of the place where they act.

The first step of this research was to make a literature review on the park surveys in order to establish a typology on the questions used but also on the outcomes. This review was performed through research papers that contained the results and their analysis but also on the questionnaires found. Along with this review, the research articles found that contained information about the “wired users”, their behavior and their relation to places, were studied. A thorough research for the parks, their facilities and the surrounding neighborhoods were made in order to assess the parks according to their accessibility, safety, comfort, etc. The research is conducted by using visual research methods. Observation, photography and film are considered accurate tools in sociology but also in several other fields. By exploring these methods, their usefulness for the work of this mission was also assessed. Different systematic visual methods were used in order to have more comprehensive answers for the questions that were initially set. The use of a time lapse recording and the monitoring of walks with a GoPro camera were estimated as the methods which in combination will bring the best results. Preliminary semi structured interviews were also made in order to highlight some of the interesting observations that were made.

Different visual outcomes were produced. At first maps of the current situation of each park regarding their facilities and their link to the surrounding neighborhoods were produced. By implementing the selected methods several films were produced, which were the primary material for creating maps of human presence and maps of wired users presence in the parks for the specific period of time.

The analysis of the data gathered gave answers to the research questions, but also leads to future research, by setting more questions. The outcomes concerned the profile of park users, the popular activities of wired and non wired park users, their behavior but also their connection with the space. One of the main outcomes of this study is the importance of the visual research in urban planning. As the outcomes from visual research are limited to the things that can be detected by an image (or several images), if they are combined other quantitative or qualitative methods, holistic results can be achieved.